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La Maschera Di Cera - Petali di fuoco CD (album) cover

PETALI DI FUOCO

La Maschera Di Cera

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars After thoroughly enjoying 2006's LuxAde, I was really looking forward to the new album from La Maschera Di Cera. I'm pleased to say that not only have they equalled that fine album but have actually bettered it.

What has pleased most lovers of Italian prog, myself included, was the authentic retro sound of the band harking back to the glory days of seventies RPI. Well if that's what floats your boat you'll be pleased to know those elements are still in place and yet Petali Di Fuoco doesn't see the band standing still with an obvious tightening up of the sound. The biggest difference you'll notice is the introduction of electric guitar where LuxAde only had acoustic. This has really toughened up the sound in places with new guy Matteo Nahum having a strong presence throughout, his playing ranging from delicate picking to powerful chords and searing solos. Fortunately he doesn't over dominate and there's still room for all that wonderful keyboard work from Agostino Macor. The flute is still a major force and the rhythm section has a tighter sound in no small part down to Fabio Zuffanti abandoning his fuzz bass in favour of a cleaner sound. Alessandro Corvaglia is singing better than ever showing that he's one of the finest vocalists in Italian prog today.

The album benefits from the strongest melodies the band has put together yet. They still produce a very dynamic sound with lots of use of light and shade. There's no epic track here like Enciclica 1168 from LuxAde, but with tracks sometimes around the six/seven minute mark there's still plenty of space for some fine instrumental work.

On an album of such overall quality favourite moments are difficult to pick, but Tra Due Petali Di Fuoco is worthy of a mention for its sheer beauty and the powerful opening of Fino All'Aurora makes an exciting start to the album with its lilting organ runs, powerful electric guitar and rhythm section before settling into a piano dominated verse. Powerful Hammond introduces the more up tempo Il Declino until midway a change of tempo slows things down and this segues into Phoenix for some wonderfully melancholic piano and flute playing. Some particularly dynamic instrumental work marks this as a highlight as it builds to a climax. La Notte Trasparente is a fitting way to close featuring a stunning extended guitar solo from Nahum.

With Petali Di Fuoco La Maschera Di Cera have excelled themselves and produced I suspect their finest album so far, though I can't include their debut in that statement as I have yet to hear it, but as good as Il Grande Labirinto and luxAde are, this new one is destined I believe to top them with RPI fans and become one of the finest Italian prog albums of 2010. 4 ˝ stars.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#277161)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RPI
4 stars I'm surprised that Nightfly's is the only review of Petali Di Fuoco here on ProgArchives. I might be wrong but it seems to be getting over-shadowed by the recent Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno album. Hopefully that situation will change in the near future. Anyway, there are 10 tracks in total here that are mostly around 5 to 7 minutes in length. This is exciting, passionate music that focuses on the interaction between vintage keyboards (Mellotron, Moog, organ) and flute, as on the instrumental PHOENIX. Guitarist Matteo Nahum plays a largely supporting role although he has some great solos throughout the album, most notably on the dramatic closing song LA NOTTE TRASPARENTE.

Nahum also gets the chance to shine on 4.18, which is a short Horizons-style acoustic interlude. IL DECLINO is slightly heavier than the rest of the material and, along with tracks like the jazz-tinged DISCESA, provides a bit of variety to the proceedings. La Maschera Di Cera write some great songs (I haven't even mentioned the album's five best tracks in this review), and in Alessandro Corvaglia they have a vocalist in the best red-blooded Italian tradition. I need to be careful with my recommendations but I think that if you enjoy Symphonic Prog, and if you don't mind Italian vocals, then you should enjoy this. It's already shaping up as one of my favourites of 2010 and if you're an RPI fan you really should have this.

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Send comments to seventhsojourn (BETA) | Report this review (#286006)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I've thoroughly enjoyed every studio album this band has put until now. I can relate to Finnforest who felt a little frustrated that he couldn't get into their last album. Well that's me with this their latest. I just can't get into it. To my ears this is different though from the rest of their records. Not as much mellotron or organ, maybe it's more laid back overall. Whatever it is it's a step down for me for sure. Listening to the debut right now and it's so much better.

"Fino All'aurora" hits the ground running with lots of organ but then it settles with vocals before a minute. It picks back up as contrasts continue. Flute after 3 1/2 minutes. This is my favourite track by far. "D-Sigma" is fairly bombastic with flute, drums and guitar. It settles quickly when the vocals arrive. It picks back up and I like the soaring guitar 3 1/2 minutes in. "4.18" is a short acoustic guitar tune. "Discesa" features steady drums with keys and flute. Vocals before 2 minutes. I like the guitar that follows. A calm with flute and reserved vocals late. "Tra Due Petali Di Fuoco" is ballad-like with fragile vocals. It's fuller after 3 minutes as drums come in.

"L'inganno" opens with bass before guitar, flute and reserved vocals join in. Piano leads 3 1/2 minutes in then the drums join in as it gets fuller. Mellotron late. "Agi Homini Che Sanno Gia Volare" opens with tender vocals and piano. Flute then drums join in as well. This is laid back until after 3 minutes. Not a fan of it though. "Il Declino" is great with the distorted organ as drums and synths join in. The organ doesn't last long but it does return 2 minutes in. "Phoenix" is piano and cymbal led then the flute joins in before it turns powerful with drums. Nice organ after 4 minutes. "La Notte transparente" opens with fragile vocals and acoustic guitar. Piano and flute follow. Guitar 3 minutes in.

Good album no doubt, but there has to be others like me that feel this is their weakest album by far. Maybe not (haha). I don't feel the emotion that i've felt in there other recordings either. I'm sure it's just me.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#290109)
Posted Monday, July 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover and E&O Teams
3 stars It's difficult to proceed, when you don't know what to say. But you know that sooner or later, you would like to see this album reviewed, for example when you see some kind of duty multiplied by fun in it.

So it's good, that's what it is for sure. It's also hard to describe (at least for me, amateur RPI listener), but I suppose you figured that out by now.

Adventurous, boldly exploring vast region of variations, combinations of how to make interesting music, holding not so tight to RPI genre (crossing to others as well, but after all, nothing is certain, or "pure" these days, genres are influencing each other). Flute is the dominating instrument here and I'm glad, it's gentle and soft element it brings.

Bringing new sounds too, like the middle of Phoenix - heavy keyboards 'n' guitar and few others, but mostly faithful to the genre's philosophy.

3(+) - but there is big BUT. This album doesn't work for me from some reason. I can't feel with it and I've tried many times. Nothing. It's here, it's even the most loud example of "all ingredients are here", yet it doesn't work. Something bad I feel about it. Not sure why, but even I can't enjoy it, it's not a bad album. So 3 stars.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#290301)
Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A very impressive release from La Maschera and the high point of new prog for me this year. I've really come to appreciate non-English speaking bands who release material in their native language and Petali Di Fuoco continues the tradition in melodic Italian tongue. At times, the band seems to be channeling vintage countrymen PFM and Celeste from their classic period. The 10 tracks explore everything from the dramatic (with washes of Mellotron, Moog & organ to punctuate the operatic quality) to pastoral with acoustic guitar, flute and piano emphasizing the gentler side of the band's repertoire. For me, the band has successfully created music on this CD that has a real, passionate, vintage feel to it. La Maschera Di Cera may not be covering brand new territory with this release but it's very satisfying none-the-less.

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Send comments to TronFlutes (BETA) | Report this review (#290696)
Posted Saturday, July 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Petals of Fire" - the title couldn't describe better, the beauty, tenderness and the raging passion on this. I can't resist any more, even after only 2 bare days of listening...Too good to be true!!! My first contact with "La Maschera di Cera", from my same country Italy, and already so enthusiast to have met each other here on PA! Maybe early to write a review, but I would like to recommend this great record to everybody who get pleasure in listening real prog rock, with strong melodies: classic prog rock instrumentation - flute, guitars, hammonds, and a great, powerful singing, and a great production (PFM influenced)!!. Momentarily, the songs "il Declino" and "Phoenix", that mix into each other to form what I understand a single >10min great piece, it's a favorite of 2010. And great moving feelings from the closer "La Notte Trasparente", the opener "Fino all'Aurora", "Petali di Fuoco"...mmm, it seems I'm listing as favorites all of the numbers...Now, can't stand anymore to explore previous works from LMDC...APPLAUSI! 4,5 stars - no doubt

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Send comments to ingmin68 (BETA) | Report this review (#293562)
Posted Friday, August 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'm not really happy with this long awaited record.

After a 4 years hiatus, the italian glory La Maschera di Cera (probably the most favourite of mine of the contemporary prog bands) has finally come with the follow up to the magnificient LuxAde.

As I feared, their 4th studio effort is a different story, less adventurous, without any concept behind and, basically, a collection of short tunes (with lenght good enough for radios).

The formula is easily recognizable in the short gems they used to put into the previous works: Orpheus, in particular, but also La Consunzione (from Il Grande Labirinto).

The problem with the new album is that now it's all too predictable and there's no single moment of pure symphonic extravaganza.

Their typical sound has also slightly changed with the entrance of electric guitar instead of the peculiar distorted bass.

All in all it is not a bad record, with still a good (symphonic and jazzy here and there) prog taste.

The weakest studio album in their discography, though.

They're men, after all. Nobody's perfect.

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Send comments to Andrea Cortese (BETA) | Report this review (#307810)
Posted Monday, November 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I heard about this band through some friends in the ProgBrasil forum. You know, for some the italian prog bands were always very popular among prog circles in my country since the early 70´s, so it was no news when I got this message praising this band. Nearly all italian groups are highly regarded here. And I´m not one to like all of them. I´m kind of old fashioned, I guess. Modern italian bands tend to sound a bit too alternative for my taste. Only recently I decided to give this group a spin and I was quite impressed. They are indeed progressive in the truly sense of the word: very symphonic, very melodic and at the same time quite daring.

They do pay homage to the great groups of the 70´s (PFM, Banco, e Orme, etc) and yet they are not exactly retro. The modern elements of their sound are put in favor of the symphonic rock they play. Their tunes are strongly rooted in the long and melodic italian tradition of their popular and classical music. Of course they do have influences of other great prog giants of the day (the Gabriel era Genesis is the most obvious one, but there are some King Crimson traces too) The musicians also added generous doses of jazz here and there for good effect. Like all the classic bands of that country, this band is gifted with terrific songwriting skills: all the ten tracks are equally powerful, varied and inspired.

Petali Di Fuoco was produced by Franz Di Cioccio (yes, the drummer/vocalist from PFM himself!) and he did a great job here. His work enhanced the extraordinaire performances of all musicians involved, but specially of vocalist Alessandro Corvaglia. The guy lives up to Italy´s fame for producing great singers. He simply steals the show most of the time not only with his excellent voice but also because of his passionate and convincing delivering. Another great featiure here is the massive use of vintage sounding keyboards (Hammond organ, moogs, mellotron and Fender Rhodes electric piano). The arrangements are tasteful and the presence of some brilliant flute also brings back memories of a time when those were the few prog bands that were making excellent music outside England. My only criticism about this CD is the fact that I think guitarrist Matteo Nahum is a bit underused here, He deserved a little bit more room to show off his fine solos.

I´ve been listening to this album for days and I just can´t get tired of it. A real true (new) prog gem. I´m looking forward to hear their next (and previous) releases.

Rating: 4.5 stars. Highly recommended for all symphonic prog lovers in general and fans of the italian branch in particular.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#419371)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Beautiful, perfect, but something is missing

"Petali di Fuoco" is a bit of a shift for La Maschera di Cera. The emphasis here seems an attempt to make a more streamlined, concise, and accessible RPI album. Whereas the previous album had long tracks that meandered a bit, here the compositions are laser focused on sticking on your brain. A huge impact on the band's sound is the addition of new lead guitarist Matteo Nahum who is an unbelievably gifted player. This time around guitars are as important as keyboards in the mix. The new songs are mostly hard-hitting and energetic prog rock numbers with smooth, easy-on-the-ears vocals, rippin' flute playing, powerful drumming, and Nahum's stoked guitar. He plays a very smooth, fluid, and melodic style of lead guitar, polished and soaring, some might say a bit predictable at times, but of undeniable high quality. If I were rating this band on technical ability and refined sound, it would be unfair to give them less than five stars for this album. However, my Fabio Zuffanti problem continues. This guy is just a legend and a product-machine, John Davie coined him quite perfectly as the Italian Steven Wilson. But nearly every release from him is a similar experience for me. Flawless playing and superb production, but ultimately an album experience that fails to truly excite me. Despite the positive attributes this album is beautiful and safe at the expense of the gritty and unpredictable elements that make Italian prog rock so fantastic. This is a good album in so many ways and most people are going to wonder how I can criticize it. I really can't other than to call it a taste issue. RPI fans should check this out and many should be pleasantly surprised, but this listener finds the experience a bit middle of the road.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#588454)
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars The fame (and of course the good music) of La Maschera di Cera finally surpassed the US borders in 2007.The band was invited to participate in the famous NearFest and two years later they revisited the States to have a memorable performance at the Progday in North Carolina.With the help of new Höstsonaten guitarist Matteo Nahum the group entered the studio to record another album, this time entitled ''Petali di Fuoco'', produced again by Franz Di Cioccio and released in March 2010 on Aerostella/Immaginifica.

La Maschera di Cera had always been Zuffanti's closest project to the Classic Italian Prog style of the 70's and ''Petali di Fuoco'' keeps this tradition alive.Very good symphonic-inclined Heavy Progressive Rock with a fantastic Italian flavor and an adventurous sound, scanning the music of JUMBO, OSANNA, MUSEO ROSENBACH and BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO.This time the album does not contain long, multi-parted compositions, but the arrangements are complicated with plenty of evident vintage references and enough breaks, even if the longest one does not exceed the 8-min. mark.Huge, atmospheric analog keyboards like the Mellotron and the Hammond organ haunt the ten tracks, which additionally contain plenty of heavy flute parts and intense guitar hooks.The sound ranges from romantic and mellow, based on the careful use of pianos and acoustic guitars, to bombastic and quite dark, especially when the Mellotron and flutes are in use, while Corvaglia's rough voice is another reason the band resembles to acts like MUSEO ROSENBACH or JUMBO.Still a more modern aspect is present through the very good production and the intelligent use of synths, blended perfectly with the color of the analog keyboards.

Another memorable album by a band that rarely dissapoints the average Prog fan.Retro-influenced Italian Prog with a couple of fantastic tracks among the good ones like ''Fino all'aurora'' or ''L'inganno''.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#888101)
Posted Saturday, January 05, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars What was it again?

After a dynamic - and very pleasing - start the music changes abruptly when the vocals enter. I first pick up a Gabriel era approach shortly followed by Collins style singing. And that's within the same song. The Collins approach remains more dominant throughout the album.

I see nothing really wrong with the band paying homage to their peers, nevertheless the experience leaves me somewhat confused. The voice is strong and pretty good - if only too much of it overall. It appears that some fine instrumental passages and the vocals just don't blend together to create a decent balance. As if two different bands' efforts were spliced together - randomly. It's hard to tell if the band is the support act to the vocals, or the other way around. Neither here, nor there, the album represents little harmony.

The musicianship is generally good, but I do detect a bit of struggle there. It appears to my ears that they are trying too hard to do more than what they are equipped for. A second spin leaves me with a similar impression of a cart pulled in different directions by the horses. It's still a cart though, a cart that's going nowhere. It's highly unlikely that I would ever have the urge to hear this work again.

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Send comments to BORA (BETA) | Report this review (#904258)
Posted Friday, February 01, 2013 | Review Permalink

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